Laurence D. Packer

PhD (Toronto) ldp
Professor of Biology
Research Areas: Bees, especially their taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography.

Research Focus:

Research in my laboratory focuses on wild bees, of which there are over 20,000 species divided into approximately 500 genera. The research collection I manage has almost 95% of these bee genera represented and likely more than 30% of the world’s bee species with examples from over 100 countries. There are literally hundreds of undescribed species in the collection, we are working to describe them. We have also worked on the ecology, behaviour, population genetics and conservation of bees and are active in DNA barcoding of the bees of the world. There is a sideline research area of evaluating taxonomic methodologies (see Packer et al., 2018) as an example. Recent graduate students have performed revisionary studies of genera, described new species, placed fossils within a rigorous phylogenetic framework, studied the behaviour and ecology of urban bees and investigated bee biogeography in the Atacama Desert.

Future research activity is expected to concentrate on bee taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography, with particular emphasis on desert bees and also on the development of user-friendly identification keys to the bees of various parts of the world.

Students working in my laboratory should expect to spend a lot of time doing fieldwork: the only way to really understand the biology of a taxonomic group. I have a “hands-off” approach to supervision and my name only appears on graduate student publications if I performed a reasonable proportion of the actual physical work or the writing, or if the research is the result of a wider collaborative effort.

Graduate students in my lab are exposed to a broad range of bee research not just through international and inter-university collaborations, but also through the excellent bee research group at York, comprised of Professors Colla, Packer and Zayed and their students, pdfs and academic visitors.

I could be encouraged to take on students interested in coevolution between bees and the flowers they visit, or those interested in natural enemies of bees, such as meloid beetles and bombyliid flies.

Geodiscelis longiceps, a bee species I discovered in 2003 in Chile


Representative Publications:

(for my complete cv go to: Note that the list below is chosen to demonstrate research diversity rather than merely listing the highest impact journal articles.

Packer, L., Monckton, S.K., Ferrarri, R.R. and T. Onuferko 2018. Validating taxonomic identifications in entomological research. Insect Conservation and Diversity 11:1-12.

Packer, L. and L. Ruz. 2017. DNA barcoding the bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of Chile: species discovery in a reasonably well known bee fauna with the description of a new spceies of Lonchopria (Colletidae).  Genome, 60:414-430.

Packer, L., J. Litman, C.J. Praz. 2017. Systematic position of a remarkable new fideliine bee from northern Chile (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Megachilidae). Systematic Entomology, 42:473-488.

MacIvor, J.S. and L. Packer. 2016. The bees among us: Occupancy modelling of solitary bees. PLoS ONE, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0164764

Correia da Rocha Filho, L., and L. Packer. 2016. Phylogeny of the cleptoparasitic Megachilini genera Coelioxys and Radoszkowskiana with the description of six new subgenera in Coelioxys (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 180: 354-413.

MacIvor, J.S. and L. Packer. 2016. DNA barcoding to identify leaf preferences of leafcutting bees. Royal Society Open Science, 3:1-13

Trunz, V., L. Packer, J. Vieu, N. Arrigo and C.J. Praz. 2016. Comprehensive phylogeny, biogeography and new classification of the diverse bee tribe Megachilini: can we use DNA barcodes in phylogenies of large genera? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 103: 245-259.

Miklasevskaja, M. and L. Packer. 2015. Fluctuating asymmetry in an extreme morphological adaptation in the Chilean bee Xeromelissa rozeni (Hymenoptera: Colletidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 93:833-840.

Kerr, J.T., A. Pindar, P. Galpern, L. Packer, S.G. Potts, S.M. Roberts, P. Rasmont, O. Schweiger, S.R. Colla, L.L. Richardson, D.L. Wagner, L.F. Gall, D.S. Sikes and A. Pantoja. 2015. Climate change impacts on bumblebees converge across continents.  Science, 349: 177-180.

Praz, C. and L. Packer. 2014. Phylogenetic position of the bee genera Ancyla and Tarsalia  (Hymenoptera:Apidae): A remarkable base compositional bias and an early Paleogene geodispersal from North America to the Old World. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 81:258-270.